The bank

Rawbank, a model family business

Rawbank is a successful family business in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and was discussed during the fifth edition of the international economic forum Makutano in Kinshasa on Saturday, 7 September 2019. Experts, businessmen, lawyers and executives of the Bank reflected on the difficulties faced by family businesses confronting the challenge of sustainability after a founder’s death.

The panelists all started with a bitter observation: very often, the founders of family businesses have difficulty passing the baton to their successors. They talked of five reasons for this difficulty, including a lack of preparation, often seen as a consequence of the founders’ egoism. In other cases, the preparation to hand over the reins is done in a hurry.

In companies whose founders are from beyond Africa, children are introduced to business at a young age and are directed to pursue business studies. This is not the case for most Congolese and Africans in general. In this regard, Rawbank is a company that illustrates a case of good preparation.

“Within Rawbank, we have seen the Rawji children start at the bottom of the ladder and reach positions of great responsibility. This allows the person promoted to understand the problems of each department,” said Christian Kamanzi, Deputy General Manager in charge of risk and administration.

There are also rules of inheritance arising from tradition. The panelists noted that, very often, positions of great responsibility are attributed according to the right of descent and not to skills. They also mentioned cultural pressure. If it is difficult to dissociate the entrepreneur from his outside role in a family, there can be an antagonistic relationship between the relational role and a sentimental one. Moreover, in large families, they noted, all the children most likely want to have their share in the company irrespective of their role in it, which pushes some to sell the company to third parties. Finally, Joss Ilunga, CEO of Dijimba shared his testimony about the expatriation of heirs. Living and working in Europe, he had to return to the country to take over the family business Pharmagros. Experts are of the opinion that it is necessary to overcome all these difficulties to perpetuate family businesses in the DRC. This session of exchanges and reflections at the fifth edition of Makutano was sponsored by Rawbank.